Alton School Board snubs two of its members


ALTON — The rift on the School Board widened this week when three of its members — Steve Miller, Sandy Wyatt and Terri Noyes — agreed to reconvene the meeting that was recessed on April 4 on Monday, April 25 without consulting the other two members of the board — Peter Leavitt and Michael Ball — neither of whom will be able to attend.

The earlier meeting was recessed when the four members present reached a stalemate in seeking to elect a chairperson. With Noyes absent, Wyatt nominated Miller, the outgoing chairperson, for another term while Ball nominated Leavitt. The board divided evenly, prompting Superintendent Maureen Ward, who is authorized to conduct the election then surrender the chair to the newly elected chairperson, to abruptly recess the meeting.

The following week the Alton Teachers Association hosted a public meeting and called on parents and residents to urge the board to schedule a meeting and elect Leavitt to the chair as soon as possible.

Leavitt said yesterday that he learned by a voice mail on April 18 that the meeting will reconvened on April 25, the first day of the school vacation week. The agenda includes election of a chairperson, approving some hires, accepting some resignations and "a couple of non-public items." He said that he consulted an attorney with the New Hampshire School Boards Association who advised him that by communicating to schedule the meeting the three board members held a meeting in violation of the Right-to-Know Law (RSA 91-A).

Leavitt said that he asked Ward why neither he nor Ball, both of whom were elected to the board in March, were not contacted about scheduling the meeting. He said that she told him that "once a quorum is reached, the meeting is set and there is no need to contact all the members." He added that he asked to meet with Miller and Wyatt, but has received no reply.

Ward did not return calls Wednesday and Miller could not be reached.

Leavitt, a firefighter scheduled to work a shift on April 25 while Ball has booked a trip to Florida with his daughter, who recently underwent medical treatment.

Leavitt said he expected that when the three members of the board meet next week they will re-elect Miller chairperson, which will harden dissension among the members. He said that he has spoken to officials at the New Hampshire Department of Education who advised him that the matter was for local officials to resolve.

Controversy pitting parents and teachers on the one hand against the school board and superintendent on the other has escalated since February when more than 250 petitioners expressed no confidence in the superintendent and her administration and presented seven other demands. The board has yet to respond to the petition.

City schools to finish year in the black after fund transfer


LACONIA — To help the school district to finish in the black at the end of this school year, the School Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to ask the City Council to release $180,000 from the Special Education Trust, at the recommendation of the Budget and Personnel Committee.

According to Business Administrator Ed Emond, there is about $187,000 in the fund, which was established to offset sudden spikes in the demand for special education services that couldn't be foreseen during the budget planning stages.

As it stands right now, the School District is about $500,000 short for the current school year that ends on June 30, largely because of special education overruns.

Superintendent Dr. Phil McCormack said the district has been on a soft spending freeze since early November and a hard spending freeze since Christmas. He said essentials are being purchased and salaries are being paid, but other items are treated on an individual basis.

In addition, Emond said there is $100,000 in this year's budget that should have been transferred into the Special Education trust fund that was not. He said two $25,000 funds – one for a building study and one for contingency – have not been spent.

He said the $180,000 currently in the Special Education Trust, plus the $100,000 never transferred to that fund, plus the $50,000 in the building study and contingency funds, and adding in the money from the items not purchased due to the spending freeze should keep the district afloat financially. He said there will be no money to transfer into various trust accounts at the end of the year.

Emond and McCormack told the committee that in the end of May and beginning of June they will re-evaluate the financial picture. Should there be any financial flexibility, they will use that money to pre-purchase some supplies and perform some maintenance repairs to alleviate the constraints on next year's budget.

Gilford police break up party, arrest seven teens at house

GILFORD — Police interrupted what was likely to be an under-aged drinking party Saturday at 9:10 a.m. on Dockum Shore Road after getting a call from a workman who didn't recognize any of the cars in the driveway.

Lt. Kris Kelley said police called the homeowner, who also didn't recognize the cars and gave them permission to enter.

Kelley said Nicholas R. Burke, 18, 48 Flagg Road of Gonic is charged with one count of criminal trespass, one count of facilitation an underaged drug or alcohol party, and one count of unlawful possession of alcohol.

Jacob Walters, 18, of 24 Joseph Drive in Gonic is charged with criminal trespass and unlawful possession of alcohol.

Kelley said there were a total of seven youths, both boys and girls, in the house who were between the ages of 16 and 18. The juveniles were charged with unlawful possession of alcohol.

Kelley said he's not sure if police came too late for a party on Friday or were early for a party on Saturday but said it appeared the youths were planning on spending Saturday night there.

He said it appears one of the young people is an ex-acquaintance of the child of the homeowners.

– Gail Ober